Seven years ago, I literally fell into Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I had fallen down some stairs and sprained my ankle. Acupuncture and TCM was recommended. I had a vague understanding that acupuncture entailed placing fine sterile needles into specific points on the body and the pain will somehow shift. This was true, however, when I received my first treatment, not only did my ankle feel relief but I felt calm for the first time in 10 years. The more treatments I had, the more TCM positively affected my overall sense of well-being. I felt a call to embark and explore the deep waters of Chinese medicine and then fell for a second time, this time head over heels in love.
TCM won my heart due to the fact that this medicine is based on observing and applying the laws of nature as a mirror for our own physical, spiritual, mental and emotional journeys. That we humans belong to nature and are never above it. TCM recognizes the diversity in nature is also applicable for its ability to offer assistance and includes diverse modalities such as acupuncture, mindfulness, exercise with tai chi and qi gong, body work including gua sha and cupping, feng shui, diet therapy, and herbs. As such there are many diverse ways to help realign and bring balance and promote health. TCM also understands that each person is unique and the goal is to individualize the treatments with many modalities at its disposal to meet their patients exactly where they are at and achieve their healthcare goals.
TCM connects the synchronicities between nature, and what happens within our own health. For example, one may notice common themes that arise in autumn and can carry into the beginning of the winter months. There is a prevalence of cough and colds, sore neck and shoulders, dry itchy skin, a desire to organize and de clutter the home and prepare for study, experience the joy of being wrapped up in a cozy scarf, sipping hot drinks, read a book by the fire, and adore the beauty that nature provides with golden and blushing leaves, and then the innocent sight of fresh sparkling snow gently dancing its way to the ground.
This time of year can also evoke grief and deep introspection. These feelings, symptoms and actions are also known as the metal season in TCM - September to November and TCM states that the lungs that store grief and sadness, the large intestine assists with grief and the process of letting go, a dislike for dryness, energy contracting and moving downward, the nose is the first line of defence to protect the lungs as is the skin in creating our boundaries with our external world reflecting the dryness of the season. These are all patterns that make up the fall.
The poetry of Chinese medicine recognizes that when this season is upon us, even nature takes a pause to say a beautiful thank you, goodbye, and prepare for what’s next and we too deserve the grace and space to do the same. Furthermore, it is necessary and healthy to understand and experience these shifts so that when winter is upon us, we are prepared to face the fears that can arise in the cold in winter months with the ability to adapt accordingly. The contracting energy of the fall and winter signals us to rest and preserve our energy reserves so when spring and summer are here, we can thrive with abundant energy and cultivate our bounty.
Traditional Chinese Medicine categorizes different acupuncture points on the body for the different actions and one of my favourite categories is called the window of heaven points. These points are found on the neck and in the shoulders. By their name and location one can understand that when emotions are felt only in an intellectual state or only in physical symptoms such as coughs or digestion issues, we need to harmonize the mind and body for deep healing and communication. Grief and letting go is an individual journey, and the key to healing and how to process such heavy emotions can be found by going inwards and honouring the wisdom that can only be heard in the quiet. Sharing these feelings and knowing you are not alone, taking deep breaths, gentle movements and proper diet are all helpful in processing such times.
To say that I am in awe of this medicine is an understatement. I stand on the shoulders of giants and give thanks for their deep wisdom they so generously share. I am profoundly grateful for the awakening and communion being forged in my own connection with nature and welcome the wisdom and lessons it provides. As TCM practitioners, we are witnesses to your healing, offering safe space to be heard, balanced with quiet when the needles are inserted so that the mind and body can be calm and communicate divine wisdom. Know that we are not alone in our healing or in our suffering, and that there is always hope and a change in season filled with new experiences is just around the corner.
Lindsay Walker is a licensed TCM practitioner in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and is in good standing with the CMAAC Saskatchewan chapter and the CTCMA of British Columbia. Lindsay specializes in anxiety and depression, gynaecological disorders, muscle skeletal pain, insomnia and sleep apnea as well as digestion disorders.